the administrative divisions of the Novgorod Land. The term first appears in Novgorod cadastres and documents dating from the late 15th century. According to some prerevolutionary Russian historians, the piatiny were ancient administrative units in the Novgorod Feudal Republic, related to the division of the city of Novgorod into five boroughs, called kontsy (”ends”). Each piatina was headed by the elder of the borough to which the piatina belonged. The division of the Novgorod Land into piatiny may also have originated in the ancient division of Novgorod’s territory into sotni.
There were initially five piatiny: the Vodskaia, Shelonskaia, Derevskaia, Obonezhskaia, and Bezhetskaia. The Vodskaia piatina was located between the Volkhov and Luga rivers, the Shelonskaia piatina lay along the Shelon’ River, between the Luga and the Lovat’ rivers, the Derevskaia piatina was situated between the Lovat’ and Msta rivers, the Obonezhskaia piatina included the area around Lake Onego, stretching north and northeast of the lake, and the Bezhetskaia piatina encompassed the watershed between the Msta River and the affluents of the Volga. In the mid-16th century, each piatina was divided into two parts: the Bezhetskaia into the Belozerskaia and Tverskaia, the Vodskaia into the Korel’skaia and the Poluzhskaia, the Derevskaia into the Morozova and the Riapchikova, the Obonezhskaia into the Nagornaia and the Zaonezhskaia, and the Shelonskaia into the Zarusskaia and the Zalesskaia. The piatiny were also subdivided into pogosty and sometimes into volosti.
The piatina served as the basic territorial unit in taking the census, assessing and collecting state taxes and dues, and determining feudal land holdings and the military service of the landed gentry. The affairs of each piatina were handled by special subsections (stoly) in the Moscow government offices charged with the administration of the Novgorod Land. The territorial dimensions of some of the piatiny (Vodskaia, Shelonskaia, Obonezhskaia) changed in the 16th and 17th centuries as a result of Russia’s wars with Sweden. The piatiny were abolished in the early 18th century during the general provincial reform.
V. D. NAZAROV